The Wildlife is the prime reason for visiting the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. The logistics of travelling to and around the islands as well as information on the islands is given in the Galapagos Islands article itself.
Lying 1000km west of Ecuador on the South American mainland, the volcanic Galapagos Islands' wildlife developed and remained relatively protected until the 1800s. Charles Darwin visited the islands in 1835 and his studies here helped form his Theory of Evolution. Since then, although the influence of mankind has increased, the islands isolation has kept them remarkably unspoilt with some of the tamest wildlife you will ever encounter.
The National Park
The land of the islands was declared a National Park in 1959, and the surrounding seas a marine biosphere in 1986.
What to bring / hire
The Giant Tortoises (Geocheleone elephantopus) are justly the most famous residents of the islands, weighing up to 200kg and living for up to 150 years. Each island with tortioses tends to have it's own sub-species (but with five on Isabella) which have evolved separately. Of the 14 sub-species, three are extinct and one more will be when Lonesome George (from Pinzon) dies. The tortoises are most easily seen at the Charles Darwin Research Centre on Santa Cruz., as well as in the interior of this island and on San Cristobal and Isabella.
The black Marine Iguana (Amblyrhyynchus cristatus) can be seen sunning themselves (often on top of each other) on rocks at the sea edge of most of the islands. The world's only seagoing lizard, it feeds on seaweed.
The Galapagos Land Iguana (Conolophus subscristatus) are another dinosaur like reptile which lives on most of the main islands. A grey-yellow colour, the move slowly - be careful not to walk on them. They eat the pads of the prickly pear cactus
The Santa Fe Land Iguana (Conolophus pallidus) lives only on Santa Cruz and is slightly larger.
The Lava Lizard (Tropidurus) scurries around the rocky ground of the islands. There are seven species, which similarly to the Giant Tortoises are endemic to different islands.
Egrets & Herons